When to Apply to College

What is the right time to apply to college?  Are there advantages and disadvantages to different times?

College application

College application

As students end their junior year of high school and begin to look around the corner to their senior year, the topic foremost on their minds tends to be college. Within that, students and parents are undergoing the process of creating and editing a college list. Over the course of college visits, reading brochures, talking to friends, college counselors, and family, students are forming an idea of the kind of school they want to attend. Then comes the decision of applying to college early or not.

There are two kinds of early decision options open to applicants in the college process.  One is early decision, which requires a student to submit his or her application around November 1st of his or her senior year. The student will then usually be notified by December15th whether the college accepted, rejected or deferred them to regular decision. There are a couple of big advantages to early decision. The first is that the acceptance rate tends to be higher in this round than in the regular decision round.

The second is that if you are accepted your college process is over. Early decision is binding, meaning that if you are accepted you must attend that school. This is also the disadvantage of this option, as you must be absolutely certain about the school to which you are applying.

Another admission option is early action, which operates in the same way as early decision except for the fact that admission is non-binding. You can be accepted to a school via early admission, and still apply to other schools and ultimately attend another college if you choose. The draw back to early admission is that the acceptance rate is not as high as early decision.

Finally, you can apply via regular decision. The application will be due by January 1st and you will find out in the spring.  You can apply to as many schools as you would like and the acceptance rates are what they are depending on the school. There is no right answer to the question of when you should apply to colleges, it really all depends on how certain you are in your choice of school. If you feel like you need time and options, go ahead and wait to apply in the regular decision round.

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